I Like Lemons

Danica Quillton likes lemons. She's untrustworthy of sweet things after a very unfortunate event at her orphanage, after Mrs Sweetbrown vanished and was replaced by the bony Miss Fullington. She just happens to be the sister of her evil mother, Cara, who abandoned her as a child...

Danica explains her life, right to the unfortunate moment at the orphanage through her diary.

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2. Sweetbrown's Orphanage for Children and Young Adults

8th May

“Tea, Miss Quillton?” A woman in a patched blue dress has just asked. She’s plump and has very curly short hair on her round head. She’s short and has to step onto a stool to fetch down a tin of biscuits and a pot of brown and white sugar.

She has a kind face, unlike my mother. My heart is beating so fast I can barely write with my shaking hands, because we have just arrived at the Sweetbrown’s Orphanage for Children and Young Adults. It’s a large brown manor house and very spooky looking, but once inside its warm and the owner, Ginny, is very nice. The main door creaks a fair bit; but it’s quite modern once inside and not spooky at all. Now I understand the quote ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’

“I would want something stronger,” my mother laughs dryly. She is bony and thin, and has a cigarette dangling from her lip. She’s dressed smartly in her best dress and has caked herself in makeup, as though this is a celebratory occasion, getting rid of me. Even though she looks quite proper, she can’t go without a draw of her cigarette. She breathes out and coats me in smoke. I’m beginning to feel like a chimney sweep, the amount of soot I’m covered in each day.

“Erm, well I have coffee?” Mrs Sweetbrown says nervously but that isn’t what my mother means. Mother wants vodka or brandy and wants to get extremely drunk. She always wants something stronger. I think she’d drink alcohol neat if she could, because she says it gets her away from the ugly stress that is me. By being born I have instantly become a burden to Mother, and I am nothing but a mistake. A New Year’s Day, drink filled, cigarette fuelled mistake.

“Just take the brat.” Mother throws her cigarette into the bin, and Ginny looks startled at her sharpness, her cold heartedness. I feel as though a block of ice has just passed through my body. I’ve always known my mother hated me, but not enough to send me away for good. But maybe this is for the best. I’ll be happier here. Most of the time, at home I’d always be with the counsellor or the neighbour, Mr Finnigan, when my mother went out to party. Mr Finnigan was nice, and he taught me chess and other old fashioned games. He was like my granddad.

But he’d passed away. Everyone I was close to seemed to leave me, even though it may not be on purpose.

“Do you want to say bye to your mummy, Danica?” Ginny says softly, holding my hand. I would… If I loved her. But I hate her, I really honestly do, and the more I think about it, it’s not a loss at all. This is the happiest day of my life, to be rid of the witch who has tried so hard to make my life hell since the moment I was born. She was never a mother.

She never gave me the respect she ordered I gave to her. From the moment I could understand her words, she said I must always call her Mother and nothing else, as a sign of respect. Then she’d added harshly, that she’d never want to be a mother to an unwanted, ratty thing like me.

She never looked after me and she bullied me with every opportunity she could get. She’d laugh at me, tease me, and hit me when she was angry or upset. If she was happy, she’d go straight to the fridge, pull out a can of beer and swig it.

“If you’re happy, why not enhance it?” She’d hiccup, and then lock herself in her room, drinking herself into oblivion, playing her music as loud as she could get it, so the whole house shook. Sometimes Mr Finnigan (when he was alive, that is) would rescue me and take me to his house, but I could still hear the music pounding through the walls and he would always return me back to my flat before night fell. Then in the morning, Mother with her raging hangover would be in the most terrifying mood and she’d taunt me more than ever.

“No.” I say finally.

Mrs Sweetbrown seems a bit surprised but Mother has already stormed off, lighting another cigarette, singing about freedom. She runs onto the gravelled driveway, practically skipping with happiness, her arms outstretched.

“Bye, Cara,” I whisper. “You’re no mother to me.”

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